Info

Writing for Children

Do you want to learn how to write a children's book? Make money writing for children's magazines? Every Friday the Writing for Children podcast publishes from The Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1969, ICL has taught over 470,205 aspiring writers. Listen to the director of both The Institute for Writers and The Institute of Children's Literature and bestselling children's author Katie Davis host the show as she focuses on the craft of writing for children. She talks about how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid for your writing, and how to get published in the world of kidlit. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources, tips, and links included in every week's show notes.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
2020
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1
Sep 18, 2020

REAL SPEECH FOR REAL PEOPLE

Today’s episode is adapted from one of our lessons in the Shape, Write, Sell Your Novel course. This course will work with middle grade and YA novels as well as adult novels. You can check out more details at https://www.instituteforwriters.com/courses/ifws-advanced-novel-writing-course/

Dialogue is an essential component of creating distinct character voice, but of all aspects of writing, dialogue gives novice writers the biggest challenges. Once you understand what good dialogue is and train yourself to listen for it, you’ll find it’s one of the most enjoyable things to write.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Sep 11, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE K. SCHMIDT

Today’s guest expert is USA Today Bestselling romance novelist Jamie K. Schmidt, who also blogs for us on occasion. Jamie writes contemporary love stories and paranormal romances including the bestselling romantic comedy Life's a Beach and her 2018 RITA award finalist Stud.​ 

We talk about:
• Writer burnout
• Hybrid authors explained
• Difference between YA romance novels and adult.
• Recommendations for someone who is interested in writing romance

Check out our amazing self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Sep 4, 2020

8 STEPS TO PERFECT DIALOGUE FORMAT

Formatting dialogue in any manuscript can be perplexing. This rebroadcast of a popular episode has 8 guidelines to make your dialogue the best it can be.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Aug 28, 2020

HOW STRUCTURED IS YOUR PICTURE BOOK?

One of the major problems editors encounter when reading picture book submissions is the lack of plot, or even purposeful organization. Today’s podcast is inspired by something Jan Fields did for us: a primer on picture book structure and how choosing a structure can help you make plot decisions.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Aug 21, 2020

BECOME YOUR OWN EDITOR

Today’s episode is an excerpt from our Writing for Children and Teens course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. The course consists of 10 assignments designed to help you develop submission-ready work by the time you complete your course. You get the benefit of one-on-one instruction and critiques throughout the process. It’s a course like no other. Learn more at writingforchildren.com/course.

It may be that you’re a whiz who’s able to produce error-free prose without even thinking about it. But if you’re like most people—including many professional writers—you have at least a few failings when it comes to punctuation, grammar, usage, and spelling. Today, we thought it might be helpful to include a list here of the most common errors made by new writers —and how to fix them. We’ve mentioned some of these on the podcast before, but these errors are so common, that a little reminder is good for everyone.

 

Aug 14, 2020

COMMA LONG WITH ME

I admit I love punctuation. I love all the little rules surrounding periods, commas, and quotation marks. Maybe it’s because my mom was a professional editor, maybe it’s the added structure punctuation gives to a piece. A lot of times it’s because it makes communication more clear––we’ve all heard the following sentence with and without a comma in the right spot: “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” and “Let’s eat Grandpa!” Whatever it is, punctuation makes me happy. Let's dig into this punctuation primer.

Special thanks to Rita Reali for contributing to this episode.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Aug 7, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH EDITOR PAULA MORROW

Although Paula Morrow has written more than 70 books and hundreds of magazine pieces (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), she considers her main talent to be editing. Paula honed her skill editing for fifteen years with Cricket Magazine Group and Cricket Books, then with several book, magazine, and educational publishers. Most recently she edited at Highlights. Paula is the judge for the ICL Nonfiction STEAM Article contest.

We talk about:

  • What STEAM is, why it's important, and how it differs from other nonfiction writing.
  • What she will be looking for in ICL STEAM contest entries
  • What is structure
  • How structure differs between genres, between books and magazine stories, and between age levels
  • Why a writer should never use more than one exclamation mark at a time
  • An editor’s pet peeves
  • Good examples and/or good sources
  • And lots more!

The ICL Nonfiction STEAM Contest is open until August 31, 2020. Find out more at http://writingforchildren.com/steam.

Jul 31, 2020

BASIC STORY ELEMENTS

Today, we’re discussing three basic story elements: characters, setting, and theme. Learn how they all work together to help you tell a complete story in this rebroadcast of a popular episode.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jul 24, 2020

INTERJECTING HUMOR INTO YOUR WORK

We constantly hear that agents and editors are looking for humor. If they don’t say “humor” outright, we hear it in words like “quirky” and “whimsical.” So how do you bring humor to your own work? Let’s look at a few different ways and thanks to Andrea Collier for contributing to this episode.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jul 17, 2020

HOW TO WRITE FUNNY

Is laughter really the best medicine?

I don't know, but I do suspect that laughter is a great way to get published. If you spend much time listening to acquiring editors or librarians or agents, you'll soon discover that humor is very much something they desire. Kids love books that make them laugh. Humans, in general, appreciate humor, even in the darkest times.

Unrelenting horror or pain is hard to survive, so being able to step outside it, even a little, to laugh can be life-saving. And readers will appreciate a story that allows them to do that. But for an author to find the way to do that takes a little understanding of how humor works. In this episode, let's talk about how to write funny.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jul 10, 2020

PLAYING FAIR WITH PLOT

Good stories have lots of moving parts. Inspired by an article from our own Jan Fields, this episode challenges us to get all the parts to come together in a way that works. Many writers understand that a good plot requires giving your main character something to want or need, and that the character then needs to do stuff. A story without action of any kind isn't much of a story and most writers get that pretty early in the process of learning to write fiction. And we also realize early on that a good story eventually fulfills the want or need for the main character. But there's a bit more to it than that, and one additional element is that you must play fair with the reader. Let’s look at what that means.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jul 3, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH NANCY COFFELT

Author/illustrator Nancy Coffelt began her career as a fine artist, but when she found that the titles of her whimsical works were getting longer and longer AND longer, she dove into picture books.

Her first book, Goodnight Sigmund was published by Harcourt in 1992. Since then Nancy has produced a steady stream of published works including the picture books Dogs in Space, Big, Bigger, Biggest, Fred Stays with Me!, Catch That Baby! and Aunt Ant Leaves through the Leaves. In addition to working with educational, small houses and foreign publishers, Nancy has worked with several big houses including Houghton Mifflin, Scholastic, Chronicle, Little Brown, Holiday House, Henry Holt, Simon & Schuster, and Highlights.

Nancy Coffelt has taught writing to fellow word nerds ages 6 to adult since 1992. Her teaching style has been described as “thoughtful,” “motivating,” and “inspiring.”

In our conversation about humor, we talk about: 

 

  • If different genres are easier to write funny 
  • How to create surprise for humor
  • Monty Python 
  • How to bring heart into humor 
  • If you can you write funny when you’re not funny? 
  • The unexpected in humor 

 

 Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jun 26, 2020

PACING 101

You hear the word all the time from teachers, critiquers, and editors. “Nice brisk pace.” “Kind of slow, pick up the pace”. “I like it, but the pace is a bit slow in the middle.” So what the heck is pace and how do we make that slow middle faster or create that brisk pace in the first place? Today, I share a fantastic article on pacing from my old friend Mary Rosenblum.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jun 19, 2020

VOICE

You may feel like you are struggling to find it. The first step in succeeding is realizing that it isn’t as far away as you might think. “Relax. Know that you already have a distinctive voice,” says author Kristi Holl. “Your voice is the product of your personality and your life experiences, both good and not so good.” The trick is to set this voice free in your writing and consistently sound like yourself—not your favorite author, critique buddy, or high school English teacher. Let's dig in on voice in today's episode based on an article from Sue Bradford Edwards.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jun 12, 2020

GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY WITH PLOT

Today we’re continuing our conversation around plot. Our IFW blogger Jamie K. Schmidt contributed to a great article on plotting. Every good story, whether picture book, middle grade, YA, or adult, needs an excellent plot to get your manuscript past the slush pile. If you’re starting a new book, it’s helpful to have a plot outline in front of you when you’re stuck as to what to write next. When you’re revising, it can be helpful to pull out a plot outline to make sure your manuscript is hitting all the right beats.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Jun 5, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH WANDA BRUNSTETTER

Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of over 100 books with more than 11 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine and USA Today.

We talk about:

  • Wanda starting her writing career as an ICL student!
  • What were the best lessons she learned at the start of her career?
  • Creating outlines and happens when you veer from your outline.
  • What she puts in detailed character sketch

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

May 29, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH EMMA DRYDEN

Over the course of her twenty-five year career (including as Vice President and Publisher of imprints at Simon & Schuster), Emma D. Dryden has edited nearly 500 books for children and young readers, ranging in format from board books and picture books to poetry, novelty books, non-fiction, middle grade fiction, and young adult/teen fiction and fantasy.  As a publisher, Emma oversaw the annual publication of over 100 hardcover and paperback titles, many going on to win prestigious awards in the publishing industry.

We discuss:

  • What’s the best way to help your reader feel like they’re in your world without “telling” and creating prolonged descriptions?
  • How to use the weather to tell you story and build your world. – what if it rains? Are you in a desert?
  • What are key pieces of the world to never forget?
  • High fantasy tends to be created from the top down
  • And more!

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

May 22, 2020

SETTING AS A CHARACTER

Today’s episode comes from Jamie K. Schmidt, a regular blogger for us on the IFW Blog focusing on writing for adults. We’re talking about stories where the setting is a character itself. In books where worldbuilding plays a factor, the setting can often feel like a character— someone we’re getting to know and someone who is integral to the action in the story. We’ll have many examples from classic adult books. Their familiarity makes it easier to grasp the concept but we’ll also add some more recent kidlit examples for you to explore as well. Let’s get started. 

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

May 15, 2020

200th EPISODE GIVEAWAY

To celebrate, we're giving away over $1,000 worth of prizes! Head to writingforchildren.com/200 to enter before 5/24/20 and you could win our Revision Power Course!

When you’re about to begin revising a piece of writing, it can seem so daunting you may be tempted to bury the darn thing at the bottom of your sweater drawer, then go hide somewhere (say, at the beach) for a few weeks. But, you’re listening to this podcast, so you’re in luck! Author and IFW Guest Blogger Rita Reali is also a freelance editor and today we bring you her advice on why you should get fresh eyes on your manuscript once you’re ready to revise.  

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

May 8, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE N. HOLMBERG

Charlie N. Holmberg is the author of the Numina series and the Wall Street Journal bestselling Paper Magician series, which has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company.

We talk about building worlds through:

  • Senses
  • Clothing
  • Language
  • And how language can support the world
  • Plus, how to help your reader feel like they’re in your world without “telling” and creating prolonged descriptions?
  • And lots more!
May 1, 2020

ELEMENTS OF SETTING

If you’re going to build a whole new world in your story, you have got to get the setting right. Today’s episode explores the elements of setting with contributions from Jan Fields.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Apr 24, 2020

POETRY FOR THE VERY YOUNG

Poetry for very young children has a lot in common with poetry for older readers. It’s built word by word, as poetry has no room for extraneous words. It sounds good to the ear. It gives the reader a different way to look at the world by drawing attention very closely to something. Still, when writing for the very young, some things must be kept in mind.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Apr 17, 2020

POETRY BASED REVISIONS

Today we bring you a special episode from our favorite lyrical wordsmith Renee LaTulippe. If you write for kids, you and Renee probably have a lot in common, including the same target audience, the same writing struggles, the same desire for publication, and probably similar writing processes. Like poetry, picture books are meant to be read aloud, which means you need to create engaging language that transports children into a world of imagination. And, like poetry, you have to do it in as few words as possible.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Apr 10, 2020

HOW NOT TO GET REJECTED

Perhaps the most common question from new picture book authors is, “Why do agents and editors say they hate rhyme when so many rhyming picture books get published each year?” These authors aptly observe that kids love rhyming books, many of them are bestsellers, and Dr. Seuss’s books still sell millions of copies. Here’s the truth. Agents and editors don’t hate rhyme. They hate poorly written rhyme. Inspired by an article from 12 x 12 Writing Challenge Founder Julie Hedlund, let's talk about strategies for developing well-written rhyme.

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

Apr 3, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH PATRICE VECCHIONE

Poet, nonfiction writer, and teacher PATRICE VECCHIONE has edited several highly acclaimed anthologies for young adults including, most recently, Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience, winner of a Cybil Award.

We talk about:

  • Finding Yourself on Paper
  • Who Said You Couldn’t Say That?
  • Ways to get yourself writing poetry.
  • Lots more

Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next » 9